One of my all-time favorite shows is Inside the Actor’s Studio with James Lipton. I’ve always been fascinated by the acting process, the courage it takes, the authenticity it demands. The program showcases all kinds of filmmaking talent, from directors to producers to actors.

In many interviews, you will hear a common theme, especially from actors often talk about seeking the truth of the character. Gabrielle Scharnitzky, actor (Verliebt in Berlin, Sturm der Liebe, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes 2)  friend, and founder of the slow acting method, says we must first unlearn the judgements we have about ourselves to uncover the true, authentic self. In a rare moment, I got to sit down with Gabrielle and play James Lipton. Below are both the transcript and the 3 ½ minute video.

Christine: Hi Gabrielle! I’m sitting here with Gabrielle Scharnitzky, the founder of slow acting. I’d love to know from you what slow acting is.

Gabrielle: Slow acting basically is how to unlearn the judgement you have about yourselves. Judging is the source of what I call the fabricated being. We need to function in this world so we don’t allow that which is really there to be there. Instead  we are trying to build up another persona that is out there in the world.

Christine: Isn’t that what acting is about?

Gabrielle: No, acting is about shifting gears. Acting is about getting into the truth. To unlearn clichés, to unlearn the roles we have put on ourselves to function in this world. As an actor, you need to transcend that to really get to the truth of things. Which of course when you haven’t learn it in your life, it’s difiiculat as an actor. The first thing is to learn in the day- to- day life, to express what is really there, what you really feel and since we have been trainted NOT to do that, we have sort of created another body. Within that body we behave, we react, we think we are that, and slow acting helps you first to understand what is festering there. All the judgements that keep you from expressing yourself so you learn to experience yourself within your judgement, what it does with you, how it limits you. And then we you’ve expressed that, which of course takes courage, but you learn how to express it and take the courage because you understand this is not me, this is fabricated, this has nothing to do with the truth. So you first express that, and then after that , you can really go deeper to the real perception of yourself and to the liberty to express that.

The good news is when you do that… We always think that if we express ourselves and the truth that we will be killed, that we won’t be accepted. But the good news is when you are authentic with what you really feel and what you want to express in this world, suddenly, doors open. Suddently, judgements dissolve. Suddenly, you are embraced where you thought you would be killed. So that’s the beauty of the whole work that suddenly, you allow yourself to be who you are in this world.

Christine: Thank you Gabrielle, for liberating us all!

**To learn more about the slow acting method, go here.

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W. C. Fields

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W.C. Fields once said, “Comedy is a serious business. A serious business with only one purpose— to make people laugh.”

For those who appreciate a good comedy, you will know it is meant to look easy, fresh and spontaneous. And if you’ve ever been on a TV set, as I was yesterday, you will know the scenes are repeated over and over and over until it sits just right. It takes talent to make it appear as if you’re reacting for the first time. But when the crew still laugh after the fourth time you’ve said your lines, you know you’re on to something.

Comedic timing is an innate thing. It can be practiced, but some people have it more readily available in their arsenal than others. Yesterday while filming several scenes for a Bavarian comedy show (I had no lines, but got to do some minor improv), the veteran director guided the actors to their very best by showing them which physical accents counted for which camera angle. Comedy is all about timing and as the day progressed,  I could feel the rhythm of the scenes flow through me. It was as if the tick-tock of the clock aligned with the pulse in my veins. It was magic.

You also know when a comedy has gone awry if the scenes don’t fit together (bad editing) or the humor is reaching for a quick laugh versus an over-arching tummy tickler. Mr. Fields was right. Comedy is a serious business, and it can teach us a lot about how time plays a part in it all.

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Slow Dancing

December 17, 2010

disco ball
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The term ‘slow dance’ brings me back to that crepe papered gym under the glitter disco ball in the seventh grade. You knew it was coming as you scoped the room for the boy you hoped would choose you for that slow dance at the end.

I still get sweaty palms thinking about it.

As an adult I have come to realize that life is a dance. Just like the glass ball that casts its rainbow glitz, we capture moments of glamour, angst and flow (not necessarily in that order) as we dance our way through life.

There are dips, slides and perfect pirouettes. We experience tap and sometimes jazz. We are always on the move, even when we are sitting still for life, my friends, is swing, Fox Trot and tango all wrapped into one.

Which dance do you prefer? The boogey? Jitterbug? The waltz? Whichever one you choose, may it fulfill you and your heart’s desire.

It’s time to put on your dancing shoes. Let’s do it!

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Take 12 minutes to hear Ben Cameron speak on the healing properties of the arts. Happy Sunday!